Augmented Reality Gaming: A New Paradigm for Tourist Experience?

Jessika Weber is a Graduate Researcher at the eTourismLab at Bournemouth University. Her research project, supervised by Dr. Feifei Xu, Dr. Feng Tian and Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, aims to explore Augmented Reality Gaming (ARG) as a new paradigm of the tourist experience.

Gaming allows us to experience reality and can prepare and engage individuals for a future event. Smart phones make gaming part of everyday life and its potential to enhance a tourists experience represents a new industry frontier which this project will pioneer.
Aim: to create a new industry paradigm by engaging tourists in a dynamic, personalized and contextualized experience, through Augmented Reality Gaming (ARG) delivered via smart phones. ARG, which leverages power from both augmented reality and gaming technology, will engage tourists in a fun, informative and memorable way through an entire trip (pre, during and post). This represents a new frontier for both the tourism and gaming industry; a frontier that this project will pioneer.
Rationale: the digital technology has changed the way we think, work, learn and travel. The tourism industry must adapt to this age. Augmented Reality (AR) offer significant benefits in entertainment, training and tourism. With the increasing performance of smart phones, such as iPhone, tourism companies and government agencies are developing AR applications for interpretation of specific attractions, delivery of guided city tours, etc. Though smart phones provide tourists the interpretation timely on site, the information is static lacking interaction and fun. While some games have been developed for tourists, they are not available onsite for tourists to play in a more contextualized way. To tackle those limitations we propose in this project ARG which combines the power of both AR and computer games, believing that it has huge potential for tourism industry. For example, tourists could play a ‘treasure hunt’ game before the trip to generate interests for a visit; after the trip, the game allows them to recall their experiences; while during the trip, an AR game which joins both the real and virtual world, gives tourists a real, personalized, fun and fantasy experience feeling that they are actually in the game themselves rather than being a separate, exterior entity. ARG combines the real and the virtual worlds in a way that no other type of technology can and will create a new, dynamic experience for tourists. According to World Travel Market Report (2011), the gamification is a major trend for the coming years, which will appeal to consumers across all age demographics.

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